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Domestic covid passes scrapped next week – face covering rules will remain

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WALES will gradually begin to relax some of its remaining coronavirus protections as cases continue to fall, First Minister Mark Drakeford today announced.

From 18 February the legal requirement to show a Covid Pass to enter certain venues and events will be lifted and face coverings will no longer need to be worn in all indoor public places from a week after on the 28th.

If the public health conditions continue to improve, the legal requirement to wear face coverings in all remaining settings could be lifted by the end of March.

The changes will be confirmed on Friday, following the first three-week review of Wales’ alert level zero measures.

The latest results from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey suggest levels of infection have recently fallen, but community transmission rates remain relatively high in all parts of Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “With increasing numbers of people vaccinated and boosted and thanks to the hard work and efforts of everyone across Wales, we are confident that coronavirus rates are falling and we can look forward to brighter times ahead.

“We can start to gradually and carefully remove some of the remaining protections we have in place at alert level zero. But we are not removing all the measures at once because the pandemic is not over yet.

“To keep Wales safe we need to remain cautious and do everything we can to reassure those who feel most at risk. We will keep some important protections in place, including face coverings in health and social care settings, on public transport and in all shops. We will also keep self-isolation rules in place.

“Next month, we will publish a plan setting out how we will move beyond alert level zero and the emergency footing on which we have been operating for nearly two years.

“This will help us all to make some plans for the future.”

  • From Friday 18 February, the domestic Covid Pass will no longer be required for entry into indoor or outdoor events and venues, including nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls. But events and venues will be able to continue to use it if they choose to.
  • The international Covid Pass will continue to be integral to arrangements for safer international travel. Travellers will need to check the relevant countries’ rules for entry, including any different requirements for children.
  • From Monday 28 February, the requirement to wear face coverings will be removed from most indoor public places, apart from in retail, public transport and health and care settings.
  • If the public health conditions continue to improve, the legal requirement to wear face coverings in all remaining settings could be lifted by the end of March.
  • Schools will return to using their local decision framework from 28 February and from 11 February the guidance will be updated to make it clear adults can remove their face coverings when they are interacting with babies and small children at baby and toddler groups.

The next three-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 3 March, when the remaining measures at alert level zero will be reviewed.

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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Health

Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services

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MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.

Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.

Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.

“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”

Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.

They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS

Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”

“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”

Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.

The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.

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Business

Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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